Ankara recently held a ceremony to mark the first journey taken by the Tourist-only Eastern Express Train in Turkey. The new tourist train has been launched to not only promote railway tourism, but to also help with the huge demand that the current Eastern Express is struggling to meet.
Tourist-only Eastern Express Train
The creation of the Touristic Eastern Express is a joint effort from the Culture and Tourism Ministry as well as the Transport and Infrastructure Ministry. The new train is to be solely used by tourists as currently the demand for the traditional Eastern Express is huge and has led to those wanting to travel to eastern Turkey not being able to purchase tickets. The train will travel between Ankara and the eastern district of Kars.
The 2023 Turkey tourism goals
Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, the Minister for Culture and Tourism, explained, “As the ministry, we want to both diversify tourism and spread it over all 81 provinces. There are famous tourist trains in many parts of the world. This project had been developed to ensure that not only Kars, but also provinces and districts on the way, can take full advantage of tourism with longer-haul stops at three points on the way and at two points on the way back, instead of a few minute stops at 50 stops.”
Thanks to the new train service, passengers will be able to visit the region on organised tours during longer staying periods and also be able to shop or sample food the area has to offer. Ersoy was quick to emphasise that the train will contribute greatly to developing tourism in Turkey.
Travel to neighbouring countries
The new train is just the start of the service and is planned to expand further. The Transport and Infrastructure Minister explained that the train will operate on alternative days and will also run two extra carts. To start, the two new carts will be used as long as the demand requires, and the train will eventually run daily. The plan is for other points to be activated over time. There are new routes planned such as a Lake Van Express and a Diyarbakir Express Train, eventually these trains will be linked with neighbouring countries.
The growth of railways in Turkey
General Manager, Ali Ihsan Uygun of the Turkish State Railways confirmed that railways have developed and grown due to transport policies, highlighting how railways have been in place since 2003 under the President’s directives and support from the government. Railways have contributed to tourism, and in recent years been given a new dimension thanks to development of the industry.
Eastern Express Tourist Train timetable
The Touristic Eastern Express is set to leave Ankara on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7:55pm and from Kars on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 11:55pm. On the way from Ankara, the train will stop at Erzurum, Ilic and Erzincan and on the return journey, there will stops at Bostankaya and Divrigi.
Turkish Eastern Express Train information
The train will have 9 carts, including a restaurant, two service and six sleeping carts. The route from Ankara to Kars will take 32 hours and cater for 120 passengers. Single compartments will cost 400TL and a double compartment will be charged at 250TL per person.
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